There was a lot to love about this game. The Hoopdata stats aren’t up yet, but it seems like the C’s finished about 80% of their attempts at the rim, which constituted about 80% of their attempts overall. Brook Lopez was moidalized on the boards by KG and the much dinkier Baby. And, of course, the starters got a ton of rest as Baby and Nate put up 25 shot attempts combined and converted 60% of them. All of this without Rondo on the floor.
But perhaps the thing to love most was the period of five minutes to begin the second quarter that featured the bonkers lineup of Von Wafer, Avery Bradley, Marquis Daniels, Glen Davis, and Shaq. In those five minutes, this crazy bunch held a Nets lineup with Devin Harris to two points.
The most obvious weirdness surrounding the lineup is that Shaq, you may have noticed, does not spend a lot of time with bench guys, let alone four bench guys. Of the 319 minutes Shaq had played before this game, about 215 of them came with the other four starters, and only about 30 came with three or more bench players. But with those five minutes, that four-scrub lineup became Shaq’s tenth most-used lineup of the year.
The other eye-catcher in those five minutes was our first real look at Avery Bradley’s D. The dude is a skittering spider on the perimeter. His feet are moving crazily all the time, and he plays very close to his man, but he still manages to stay in front like he’s in a Babypouch.
Bradley was making Jordan Farmar sniff his daisy all day. It was awesome. He likes going over screens, and half the time he squeezes between his man and the screener and still stays in front. This is quickly becoming a team of players with superpowers. We’ve got The Assist. The Long-Range Gunner. The Guy They Used to Call Superman. The Turk. And now The Remora.
But back to those five minutes: here’s a rundown of every Nets possession to show you how the stops went down.
-TURNOVER. Offensive foul by Derrick Favors, who tried to set a screen on Bradley for Devin Harris, but Bradley was skittering around too close to Harris so Favors just tripped him. This will happen again.
-MISSED 15-FOOTER by Devin Harris. Bradley was on Farmar for this possession, and Harris actually shook Marquis here, but a long two is a long two.
-MISSED 18-FOOTER by Johan Petro. Farmar drove off a Petro screen, but Bradley zipped underneath and stayed in front, so Farmar dished out to Petro who back-rimmed the jumper.
-TURNOVER. Bad pass by Farmar. Farmar did lose Bradley here off a Favors screen, but Shaq lumbered out to challenge and when Bradley caught up he was trapped. He lofted a decent alley-oop attempt to Favors, but Baby was waiting for it and intercepted.
-MISSED 18-FOOTER by Johan Petro. This started as an iso for Farmar in which he could get absolutely nothing from Bradley. He was bailed out when Favors came over and set the exact same illegal screen he did earlier, but this time Bradley was called for the foul for some reason. After the inbounds, Harris got it to Petro who had a wide-open long two, which was probably in the C’s pregame scouting report under WE’LL TAKE IT.
-TURNOVER. Illegal screen by Devin Harris, again on Avery Bradley. Shown below, plus a replay:
It’s very easy to set an illegal screen on Avery Bradley, because he’s so close to his guy that he can go over the screen and still stay in front of him. When he goes over, the guy he’s defending pushes him into the screener, and it looks like the screener is tripping him.
-TURNOVER. Travel by Damion James, after Farmar and Harris blew some clock dribbling around and finding they had nowhere to go because Marquis and Bradley were playing them so well. The rotations were awesome on this possession.
-MISSED 20-FOOTER by Jordan Farmar. This was another case of Bradley going over a screen but staying so close to Farmar that he had to shoot a fadeaway from this distance. The clank actually reverberated.
-MADE 2-FOOTER by Jordan Farmar. Damion James beat Marquis up the floor and slammed an alley-oop directly into the back rim, which was then rebounded by Farmar who managed to put it back up and in over a bewildered Glen Davis. Marquis should have gotten back, but this was a fluky play overall.
So that’s five minutes, two points, no attempts at the rim, one offensive rebound, four turnovers, and four long twos, all missed. 8-2 on the scoreboard. Not too shabby. Are the Nets a bad team? Yes. Don’t let that bother you.
And just like that, it was over. Doc subbed in Nate and Ray, and these five soldiers bid each other farewell, possibly forever. As Mike Fratello pointed out, KG was the first to greet Avery Bradley on his way to the bench, presumably to congratulate him on his obvious defensive effort. It didn’t show up in the broadcast, but we can assume that KG grabbed Bradley’s head, pulled it into his shoulder, and spoke with his mouth about five centimeters from Bradley’s ear as is his custom.
OTHER NOTES FROM THIS GAME
-The exception to the strong finishing at the rim was Semih Erden, who couldn’t finish because he rarely even started. He got stripped within .02 seconds of getting the ball at least three times in the fourth. Needs to stop bringing the ball down to mortal heights.
-Glen Davis has fallen in love with another offensive move, this time the Baseline Spin. He brought it out a few more times tonight but nobody bought. Should Long Two be concerned about losing Glen’s romantic affections? Probably not. I predict the three of them coexisting in a polygamous relationship.
-This is what DeGama “wanted to see” from this game: ”The Celtics outworking the Nets. No injuries and short days for the starters. The bench stretching out the lead and building chemistry. Real minutes for Avery Bradley.” Whatever they call Christmas in Canada comes early!